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Rome crime

I have read that there has been more thefts against tourists in Rome in tourist areas and transport hubs.Is it really worse than other major European cities

Posted by
651 posts

From what little research I've done, Barcelona and Paris are worse.

However, if you keep your wits about you and your large stash of money/credit cards tucked away safely in a money belt, you have very little to worry about. In fact, you are probably much safer in large European cities than their American counterparts. In Europe you deal with pick pockets and petty theft. In the great old USA you've got muggings at knife or gunpoint, breaking & entering, etc. American criminals and thugs are generally more violent.

Posted by
16788 posts

I have no reason to think that it's worse. There are only so many precautions you can take and we recommend taking them all consistently throughout your European trip. Be especially aware in crowded situations, where tourists congregate, or where there are pedestrian bottlenecks and distractions. If your valuables are secured under your clothes in a money belt, you can have a smaller amount of cash in the wallet that you'll use for the day, limiting the amount that any thief could quickly access.

Posted by
4152 posts

No, it's not. You'll find pick pockets in every major city of the world. If you use normal precautions and a money belt you should be fine.

Donna

Posted by
11613 posts

I go to Rome every year for about two weeks, and I have not seen nor heard of increases in crimes against tourists. As others have said, take sensible precautions and enjoy Italy.

Posted by
4637 posts

From my own personal experience I could say that it's probably true. Every time I was in Metro or bus somebody tried to pickpocket me, fortunately unsuccessfully. In Paris not one attempt but I know people who were pickpocketed there. Some people say that Barcelona is even worse than Rome. Cannot confirm personally, I haven't been there, yet. Follow Rick Steves advice and you will be safe. There is much less violent crime there than in US cities.

Posted by
11981 posts

I haven't heard it's worse lately. At least it wasn't mentioned in the Italian news which I follow regularly both on line and cable TV.
Violent crime in Italy is very rare, even in mafia infested Sicily or Naples, and virtually non existent against tourists.

Like in any large crowded city, one has to watch out against petty crime. In the US this type of crime manifests itself with muggings at a gun/knife point, in Europe the preferred modus operandi is pickpocketing while you are in crowded places or valuables stolen from cars (this is less frequent nowadays with modern cars' security systems).

90% of pick pocketing occurs on crowded city buses and subways, therefore the local commuters are generally the most frequent victims. So if you avoid traveling on those and rely more on your feet (or taxi cabs for longer distances) you will be practically immune from any type of pick pocketing. High speed trains are not frequented by pick pockets because, unlike commuter trains or buses, tickets on those trains are too expensive for pick pockets to make that investment. Also they are not crowded enough for a thief to operate undetected. That's why they prefer stealing on city buses or subway where the ticket costs just a couple of euro.

However keep an eye on your bags while you are the stations purchasing tickets or waiting for the train on the platform. Some thieves specialize on bag stealing from distracted tourists.

Money belts are very useful if you carry valuables or important documents on buses or subways. Never put your wallet on the back pocket of your pants. That is the number one spot targeted by pickpockets. Money belts, fanny packs, inside of jackets work better. Another vulnerable location for valuables is women's purses/handbags. Thieves find it very easy to slip their stealthy hand inside while you are riding a crowded bus. Remind that to your female companion, if you travel with one.

Posted by
390 posts

I can add, I spent a month in Madrid and lived in Italy for 2 years....

A pickpocket was actually DIGGING in my messenger bag for any valuables on the metro, when all of my valuables were in the back zippered pocket that I had my hand on that faced my body......she would have only gotten my Spanish/English dictionary if she got anything.....

I never had any problems in Italy, but I always take precautions, and keep my eyes out for any shady business.....

really, just be aware of your surroundings and belongings and you should be peachy....

Posted by
31055 posts

peppers,

I've never found Rome to be particularly more crime ridden than other cities in Europe. Where did you read that this was the case?

Pickpockets and other scammers operate in most large cities in Europe, so taking precautions is a good idea for travel anywhere. Wear a Money Belt, be aware of those around you and especially vigilant if a disturbance or some other "distraction" occurs. Some cities have a worse reputation than others including Barcelona and Prague, but I've never had any problems in either of those cities.

When I was in Italy in September, I noticed an increased police presence in and around the rail stations, so I suspect the authorities are trying to deal with the problem at least in those locations.

You may enjoy reading Rick's advice on the subject.

Posted by
752 posts

I never wear a purse. I wear a RS money belt and a RS neck wallet, and I hide the ribbons with a neck scarf. I do this in Chicago too.

The only problem I had was not in Rome, but in Ancona, Le Marche, on the Adriatic, at the train station. A Gypsy man spotted me on the platform and stalked me on the train. It was a four hour Regionale trip to Rome. I always travel First Class and got saved by the Conductor who told us we were in the wrong car. The Gypsy man stayed behind. Why I travel First Class.

Posted by
2786 posts

I find these "every big city has crime" platitudes not helpful. Do I know anyone who has ever been pickpocketed in the US? No, and I am not a spring chicken. Do I know people who have been pickpocketed in Europe? Yes. Have I seen pickpockets at work in Europe? Yes. Have I seen pickpockets at work in the US? No.

Those are the questions and answers that matter to me. A blase "there is crime everywhere" comment is not helpful.

Posted by
11700 posts

I do know people who've been pickpocketed or had purses, briefcases, cell phones and other items they've been careless with stolen in the U.S. so yes, it can happen anywhere. The majority of people who've been victims have simply made it very easy for those light fingers. We've taken the usual precautions with our valuables in Rome that we take in any city and never had a problem.

Posted by
23851 posts

Do I know anyone who has ever been pickpocketed in the US? No, and I
am not a spring chicken. Do I know people who have been pickpocketed
in Europe? Yes. Have I seen pickpockets at work in Europe? Yes. Have I
seen pickpockets at work in the US? No.

There are two sides to most coins.

I've never been robbed at gunpoint in Europe, but my wife encountered pickpockets twice, once in Amsterdam, once south of Rome (both times nothing lost because of reasonable precautions; both on public transport).

My parents were robbed twice at gunpoint, once in Dallas and once in Boston. I had a pistol put into my face once, in San Francisco.

So where's safer? I don't follow statistics just my own life.

Posted by
26 posts

It's definitely worse than other Italian cities except those in Sicily. But there are virtually no guns. If someone comes up to you and tries to sell you a flower or something just put your hand up and say "no," very firmly. They should get the message. Be careful and you will be ok.

Posted by
11613 posts

As unnerving as it is, and for travelers replacing passports, credit cards, etc., can be time-consuming, it's not the violent crime encountered in the US.
Personal statistics:

Pickpocketed in Europe: twice
Pickpocketed in the US: never
Held up at gunpoint in Europe: never
Held up at gunpoint in the US: twice
Domicile burglarized in Europe: never
Domicile burglarized in the US: four times
Threatened at knifepoint in Europe: never
Threatened at knifepoint in the US: once

I feel a lot safer in Europe. For those who wonder where the heck I lived in the US: Miami.

About Sicily: never a hint of a problem there, and I've been there at least a dozen times.

Posted by
11700 posts

Good heavens, Zoe! Europe really IS a vacation for you!

Posted by
43 posts

Wow
My USA experience is being mugged twice at knifepoint and once at gunpoint.spread out over the years..knives 1970,1984 and the gun 2002

Posted by
11981 posts

As an explanation to Zoe's statistics, the reason why she was pick pocketed twice in Europe and never in the US is because Zoe probably doesn't take public transportation much in the US (few Americans do outside of cities like NYC or SF or DC etc) whereas I know that in Italy Zoe (like most people in Europe, visitors and residents alike) make much more frequent use of public transportation, like buses, trains etc. Few get pick pocketed in the US because most Americans travel only in their own car and never set foot on a bus.

As I explained earlier over 90% of pickpockets in Italy (and Europe) occurs on crowded city buses and subways.

I lived half my life in Italy and half in California. I've never been held at a gunpoint or pick pocketed in either place (some people say it's because I'm big and I look exactly like Tony Soprano when he's mad and people fear me), and my houses have never being burglarized in either place. But I can't even count how many times they have burglarized my cars in California. Sometimes I feel I should just leave my car open that way I save on the replacement of the window each time.

Posted by
7737 posts

When the OP specifically asks "Is it really worse than other major European cities?" it's valid to respond with an answer that it is indeed a problem in other major European cities.

As for whether pickpocketing is a "safer" activity, how is it not safer when there's no gun or knife involved? These days in the US, you have to assume that the other person is carrying a gun whether it's a mugger or another driver on the road. I'd much rather be pickpocketed. (It's also much easier to prevent being pickpocketed than mugged.)

Posted by
2786 posts

A lot of Americans are sitting ducks in Europe because they have never been exposed to pickpocketing. It's something new that needs some attention. To say that there's crime everywhere is not helpful.

Everyone who visits the Colosseum or the Place de la Concorde will see pickpocket gangs at work.

Not to feed the fire, but do cities in the US that have a lot of transit use see a lot of pickpocketing?

Posted by
767 posts

I have never been pickpocketed here or abroad but I have had friends pickpocketed in Chicago and one failed pickpocket attempt. I have seen a few three card monte scams (which I thought only happened in the movies). The two successes were on the El. The fail was while crossing a street a guy had a coat folded over his arm to hide the fact he was rifling through her purse.

I do think pickpockets are everywhere. But it is highlighted abroad because
1. The violent crimes get more attention in the US
2. We talk about it on the travel websites
3. People feel more vulnerable abroad. Most people are in unfamiliar territory and they are carrying around more valuables (if you count passport/camera) than usual.

My thoughts, anyway.

Posted by
3 posts

I live in Chicago and I have never been pickpocketed here, nor in any other US city. But I've never been pickpocketed in Europe either, and that's because I know better than to carry around my valuables in a vulnerable way.

My first trip to Europe was in high school, and the tour directors drilled into us the necessity of keeping your passport, your credit cards, and the bulk of your money securely on your body in a money belt, and to not be dumb about the rest of your personal items when out and about. I've spent the entirety of my adult life living and traveling in cities and taking public transportation, and while I've seen pickpockets at work, I've never had a thing taken from me.

I agree with Tom_MN upthread that most Americans don't live day to day in places where they need to be concerned about those things, and just aren't prepared. I would never travel with a personal bag that I can't carry crossbody and that doesn't zip shut. I carry my DSLR that way, too; I have a long, comfortable, padded strap so I can carry it crossbody and have free access to taking photos and I don't have to worry about it being insecure.

Posted by
11981 posts

To respond to Tom who's asking if US cities with substantial transit use experience pick pockets.

Yes. It does happen in America in the cities where people travel a lot by transit:

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141219/park-slope/subway-pickpocket-swipes-wallet-with-450-cash-police-say
http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/alert-san-francisco-cops-stop-pickpockets-on-muni/Content?oid=2187230
http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/pickpocketing-on-the-rise-in-busy-tourist-areas-of-san-francisco/Content?oid=2179759

However, it is in decline. Primarily because nowadays, in America, most people don't carry a lot of cash except for maybe the tourists.
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2011/02/the_lost_art_of_pickpocketing.html

However, since nobody carries valuables like cash anymore in the US, lately there has also been a surge in smart phone/tablet pickpockets:
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Phone-tablet-rip-offs-on-transit-surge-4261980.php

Posted by
6087 posts

I agree with whoever said that we think pickpockets in the US are not as prevalent as in Europe because violent crime in the US is so much more common and reported more often. Also, I have noticed that breakdowns of crime statistics in the US don't split out pickpocketing from the general 'theft' statistics so it's hard to tell. I checked the stats at some of the US's most popular tourist destinations (Disney World, National Parks, Mall of America) and it seems that the most common crime is theft, it doesn't say if that's purse snatching, pickpocketing, grabbing iphones, or whatever.

Personally I'd rather be pickpocketed in Rome, than assaulted in the US.

Posted by
48 posts

Been in Rome four times in the last nines years and never, ever had a problem even though I've taken public transportation everywhere.

But, I grew up in New York City and have eyes in the back of my head. Situational awareness and common sense is everything. I generally can spot the pickpockets, especially near the Colliseum a mile away.

Don't let yourself be an easy mark, be aware, and keep your valuables hidden and under control and you shouldn't have a problem.

Posted by
11613 posts

Roberto: Tony Soprano? I was thinking Vittorio Gassman!

Actually, the knifepoint incidents occurred while waiting for a bus, so yes, public transportation was a factor.

All incidents in the US occurred in Miami, which I love anyway.

Posted by
752 posts

It's Foolish to go anywhere nowadays without taking precautions. Right before Christmas I got stalked inside the Flagship Target store at the world-famous State and Madison at the heart of the Chicago Loop. The young guy's last lap was in the lonely cat food aisle. I watched him come at me. I believe I confused him because I never wear a purse Anywhere. The Chicago cops insisted I lose the purse when I moved to scarey southside 9 years ago. Best thing I ever did for my safety.

Last Fall I got targeted on the Orange EL in between the Chicago Loop and the nearby Halsted stop. Again, no purse, but I had a bag of cat food and a jug of Lightweight Litter on the floor, so he figured I had money someplace on me. I stared him down and he gave up the pursuit.

I used the same stare-down technique last year in Napoli when I saw a Gypsy Mom nudge her child toward me. I stared back at the Gypsy man stalking me on Trenitalia just a few months ago. Then I found refuge in the First Class car where I was safe.

There are a lot of beggars at Roma Termini. I don't like when they follow me, get in my face, scream at me, and pull at my clothes. I yell at them in English and that scatters them. They are plentiful, very demanding, very pesty. They hug those ticket machines at Termini. Recently, I yelled No to one young Gypsy gal at my ticket machine and she spit at me. But she did walk away and leave me alone.

Last year my Cousin's Dad was walking in front of the Spanish Steps when he felt a hand enter his pant's pocket. He hit it as hard as he could. It was a very young Gypsy girl.

They're out there, everywhere. So be prepared.